Ford Focus Zetec S 1.6T EcoBoost
Sector: Lower medium Price: £20,700 Fuel: 47.9mpg CO2: 137g/km
The Focus ST may be drawing almost universal praise from the motoring press, but its 169g/km CO2 emissions make it a pipe dream for most user-choosers. Thankfully Ford has recognised the UK driver’s taste for hot hatches and launched the Zetec S, which tones performance down a little and brings ownership costs within reach of the company car driver.
Zetec S is a UK-only trim level, offered as an equivalent priced sporty alternative to the Titanium models towards the top of the Focus range. Like the full-fat ST, it’s sold as a hatchback and the better looking estate, and comes bulked out with a an aggressive-looking bodykit, lower and stiffer suspension and large alloy wheels. Gaudy interior trims and even larger wheels are on the options list too, for that additional push towards ST-esque sportiness.
The transformation isn’t only visual. Zetec S models get the most powerful engine in the Focus range after the ST, the 180bhp 1.6-litre EcoBoost. It’s a little down on capacity and power compared to the 2.0-litre engine in the ST, but it serves up a decent turn of speed when needed. The all-important dash to 62mph is over in 7.9 seconds, and 138mph is possible where speed limits allow.
All of Ford’s EcoBoost engines bely their capacity, and this is no different. It’s smoother and more progressive than the whack-in-the-back thrust of the ST, but it charges forward with a throaty roar and makes light work of overtaking and accelerating up to motorway speeds.
There’s a very positive flip side, too. That performance comes at a claimed 47.9mpg, with 137g/km CO2 emissions to make it palatable for tax-conscious business users. But with six gears and a small engine you don’t get both at the same time. Extracting the performance means working the gearbox, and heavy pedalling drops the fuel economy into the mid-30s.
Overall though, this is a car which allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. Ease off the throttle and it’ll offer solid low-40s to the gallon fuel efficiency, but for spirited drives there’s still enough power on offer to make taking the long route home a lot of fun.
The hot hatch class has moved on a lot in recent years, and what once would’ve been considered a potent small car is now very much in the shadows of hottest models. But that doesn’t detract from this car’s ability to offer a bit of both, entertaining performance and sporty looks, but with achievable high fuel economy and practicality too.